Monday, 27 January 2014

Lightning: A Continuing Success Story

In 2009 a female Leopard (N027) nick-named "Lightning" was relocated from a high conflict area in Northern Namibia to  Kulala Wilderness Reserve in Southern Namibia. She was released after being fitted with a GPS radio collar that enabled intensive monitoring of her movements and behaviour over the subsequent years; making her one of the longest running leopard case studies in Africa. 

The monitoring of this leopard has produced extremely valuable research information. Lightning has already raised one litter of cubs successfully and investigations of her kill sites confirmed a strict wildlife diet including warthog, kudu and springbok with no predation on local livestock.  This information has been regularly shared with the landowners where Lightning has established her 220km home range.

In early 2012, after developing a home range overlapping the Neuras property and that of our neighbour, Tsauchab River Camp;  her collar's lifespan was up and her signal went dead. Her movements could only then be determined by occasional sightings, spoor and camera trap images; one of which showed she was supporting another young cub.
In mid-December 2013, Lightning and her cub were successfully trapped at Neuras. Lightning was darted by a veterinarian and re-collared with a new GPS satellite unit. This would allow the continuation of intensive monitoring, adding important data to this unique case study.
Since being fitted with her new collar the Neuras team have already discovered two kill sites (both Warthog) and a leopard marking tree where a camera trap has now been placed. We now have the unique opportunity to chart not only Lightnings behaviour but also the progress of her cub.

To stay informed of Lightning's progress this blog will continue to feature weekly blog updates by our volunteers in which their experiences of tracking Lightning will no doubt be heavily featured.

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